|(photo by Broadwaybabe120)|
I went digging through some dusty old posts, as I was getting ready for Sexuary. I was curious to see how my marriage and our sex life has evolved in print. Wasn't sure whether to be excited or nervous.
I was ... comforted. Happy. Very, very happy.
One post, in particular, was written eight years ago. It had some elements to it that we had implemented and promised each other as we lived out our relationship together. We've continued to do so, and have even added some things to it, as we lived and learned and screwed up and made it right. I'm going to rewrite that post with a lot more experience and wisdom behind it. It still rings true.
I want to be ...
I remember the day it started to sink in. We had vowed to stay together “for better or for worse.” I had pictured that to be tornadoes, job losses and unexpected deaths. Why didn’t anyone look me in the face and say, “Sometimes your spouse will be the ‘for worse’ part, and sometimes it will be YOU!”? You know what? Someone probably did say it. Just like all of the relationship books I had read, as soon as I felt an ounce of guilt about my own part in this I shut the book and moved along. I was looking for someone to tell me what I wanted to hear – how to fix my partner! In the meantime, I was ignoring my own part. The only person I have control over is me, and I haven't always wanted to exercise that control in a healthy way.
They Can't Read Your Mind
It would be gloriously romantic if your partner could read your mind about everything. Or even some things. However, they won't ... because they can't. That doesn't make them jerks. It just makes them human. You're not losing out if you have to verbalize things for them. They're not lazy or thoughtless because they didn't automatically figure out that getting the oil changed for you was how you were going to feel more valued and loved today. Ask them to get the oil changed. Say, "I will feel more valued and loved if you will do this for me today. I need this today." Then, watch and see if they do it. What I have discovered is that Michael wants to help me and express his love for me in the best ways possible. He also needs me to tell him what the heck that looks like! And every time I've asked, he has done it. The little things.
I want my partner to read my mind. Occasionally he does. But mostly he doesn't. And I don't read his. I have to remember that he gets to be as human as I get to be. Sometimes we need to be told what the other person needs, so we can be awesome. Not reading someone's mind is never a reflection of their love and commitment to us, and if you use it as a "test" of some sort ... you're kinda' being an ass. And then neither one of you can be awesome.
Be Their Safe Place
I'm verbal. Some of us are insatiably verbal! That’s when we start to cross the line from being articulate and outgoing … to just plain hurtful and jerky. Your partner needs to know that even if they fall on their face and mess up, they can find their way back up. When they find their way back up, they deserve to have the space to make it right and move forward. The way we speak about our partners (to them and to others) will either help them move forward and be more amazing, or create a giant bag of weight that will make this more difficult.
Everyone screws up. Everyone can be a douche from time to time. And when that happens to us, it helps to have a place to process through the pain. My husband and I have a handful of people in our lives where we can go to vent. Dump our frustration. Talk through our anger. We have created some parameters that look like this:
Who these people are ...
- sometimes it may be a therapist
- they love both of us
- people we both agree to ahead of time
- they have a strength and maturity that allows them to hear one side of the argument and still be able to fully love the other person
- they have been a proven, trusted part of our lives
- ultimately, they will let us vent but always slowly nudge us back toward the other person - supporting our life commitment
Who these people are not ...
- people that our partner has not agreed to
- blog readers
- Yahoo groups
- any other human on the planet that does not fit the criteria above
This thing right here has been such a gift to me. I mess up. I am selfish. I can be very, very bitchy/hormonal/demanding. I'm human. And I can be human and be hurtful and know that my partner has a safe place to go and work through what I have done. Then he can come to me and work through what I have done to him (not necessarily in this order). Then we can move forward and I don't have a giant group of other people having a hard time forgiving me when we have already moved on. Such a gift! And we both deserve that.
Anything you have ever read about my marriage, our difficulties, fights, etc., have only been written with direct permission from my husband. Anything you have heard him say or joke about on Facebook or at a party has only been said because it's a topic we agree we can joke about and share openly. Have we ever crossed the line and broken this promise to each other? You betcha. And every single time that has happened and the other person is called on it, we get our act together and go back and fix it. We ask, "What can I do to make this right or better?" We listen to the answer, and then we do it.
Give your partner the assurance that their name is publicly safe on your tongue.
It's February. Sometimes this month can bring great life and excitement to a relationship. Other times, just the pressure and unspoken expectations around Valentine's Day can be the things of an epic annual throw-down fight. Every Sexuary has brought my marriage a lot of intimacy as well as a lot of big, giant, hairy emotional mess. As we work through it, we find more intimacy. We grow. We end up stronger. Don't forget to communicate and don't forget to protect.
If you're not sure what to do ... do nothing. Wait. Sleep. Calm your mind. Then ask yourself, "What would I want and need when I'm at my very worst?" Then do that for your partner. We shouldn't ask them to do for us what we're not willing to do for them.